Russian President Putin wraps up visit to Azerbaijan as ties bolstered
Russian President Vladimir Putin wrapped up on Aug. 13 a one-day visit to Azerbaijan, where he discussed a broad range of issues with his Azeri counterpart, İlham Aliyev, including energy, trade, defense, bilateral ties and regional issues. Azerbaijani President Aliyev said that his country’s defense industry collaboration with Russia is worth $4 billion and keeps growing. Azerbaijan is among the top buyers of Russian arms and other military equipment, which, Aliyev said, is considered the beRussian President Vladimir Putin wrapped up on Aug. 13 a one-day visit to Azerbaijan, where he discussed a broad range of issues with his Azeri counterpart, İlham Aliyev, including energy, trade, defense, bilateral ties and regional issues.
Azerbaijani President Aliyev said that his country’s defense industry collaboration with Russia is worth $4 billion and keeps growing.
Azerbaijan is among the top buyers of Russian arms and other military equipment, which, Aliyev said, is considered the best in the world. President Putin stated that Azerbaijan has one the highest economic growth rates in the world and wished Azerbaijan continuing success. He also pointed out that despite the current global economic crisis, trade between Russia and Azerbaijan grew as high as by 47%.
Meanwhile, Russian crude giant Rosneft signed an oil and gas agreement with Azerbaijan’s state energy firm, SOCAR, aimed at loosening the European Union’s ties with the key Caspian market.
Neither side disclosed the full details of a deal that was sealed on the sidelines of talks in Baku.
“The agreements we signed today mark a new stage in our oil and natural gas cooperation,” Russian news agencies quoted Aliyev as saying after the signing ceremony.
“I am certain that this cooperation will be a great success,” Aliyev said. Last year, Azerbaijan delivered 1.55 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Russia.
Visit to warship
Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil producer, meanwhile has been desperately looking for ways to expand its natural gas business in direct competition to the Moscow-based behemoth Gazprom.
State-owned Rosneft has been urging Putin to break Gazprom’s monopoly on natural gas exports and to allow the firm to conduct its own sales to European and Asian clients.
But Rosneft also needs to expand its natural gas base before such shipments can begin in any great extent. It was not immediately clear whether Rosneft had secured any specific concessions from Azerbaijan on natural gas.
Putin also said that the summit talks in Baku were timed to coincide with the Russian Caspian Flotilla visit. “Azeri warships are to pay a return visit to Astrakhan at the end of the year,” the Russian president said.
During the visit Presidents Putin and Aliyev paid a visit to a war ship of the Russian Caspian Flotilla called the Dagestan. The leaders listened to reports by the Caspian flotilla commander of the Russian Navy and the Navy of Azerbaijan, and then boarded the Dagestan. Putin said Russia wants the Caspian problems to be settled as soon as possible and the Caspian Sea to become a region of cooperation.
“A strong emphasis was put in the talks on problems in the Caspian region. We want this region to become a region of peace, stability and cooperation,” Putin said.
Energy-rich Azerbaijan has been viewed by EU nations as a reliable alternative to the natural gas supplies they get from Russia via Ukraine, a route that has previously been blocked by Moscow during pricing disputes.
Azerbaijan’s SOCAR state energy company has already signed agreements with such major European partners as BP and Statoil as well as the United States’ ExxonMobil.
The two also discussed the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. “Azerbaijan would like to see Russia as a referee. The occupation of Azerbaijani land has continued for more than two decades,” Aliyev said.
“What could be demolished, has been demolished. Twenty percent of our territory is occupied; the U.N. resolutions remain on paper.” A solution can only be political, Putin replied, according to Russian Itar-Tass news agency.